Donna H. Branson, Ph.D., 2006 Homeland Security Award

Written by on April 10, 2006 in 2006, Homeland Security Award, Researcher

Donna Branson

Donna H. Branson, Ph.D.

Regents Professor and Director
Institute of Protective Apparel Research and Technology
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Dr. Donna H. Branson is Director of the Institute of Protective Apparel Research and Technology and Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University. She co-led an industry-academic team of researchers from 2001-2004 to develop a prototype personal, portable cooling system for first-responders to hazardous materials incidents. This work resulted in the development of a liquid cooling garment interfaced with a cooling unit that was shown to improve subjects’ physiological and perceptual responses under simulated environmental and work conditions. The system has the potential to be enormously beneficial to first-responders in various protective ensembles by lengthening the amount of time that an individual will be able to work an incident, and decreasing the mental and physical fatigue, thereby reducing errors and reducing heat-related health issues of first-responders.

In 2004, Dr. Branson and her OSU colleagues began collaboration with military and industry partners to develop body armor systems which provide protection for the limbs. Dr. Branson and her group were responsible for design, prototype fabrication and production of test units, specification of materials and other component parts, redesign following testing, and major aspects of technology transfer for mass production. The emotional nature of the problem coupled with the challenging aspects of addressing a difficult design problem were powerful motivators for the team. Long hours were spent developing a concept and improving it through multiple iterations of testing and design refinement. Wear testing and ballistic tests were done at Aberdeen Proving Grounds as well as desert condition wear testing at 29 Palms in California. The medical community treating injured troops received prototypes and provided input based on their knowledge of soldiers’ injuries. This work resulted in development of an innovative product system called QuadGard®. Weighing only ten pounds, the component system provides protection for soldiers’ arms and legs against devastating injuries caused by shrapnel from improvised explosive devices. Two versions of QuadGard were developed in less than two years, and transferred to an Oklahoma manufacturer with 5,000 units now in Iraq.

Dr. Branson holds a Ph.D. in Family Ecology and a specialization in functional apparel design and statistics from Michigan State University; a Master’s degree in clothing, textiles and related art from the University of Rhode Island; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Dominican University.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2006 Homeland Security Awards Evaluation Committee:

  • Tony Duthie, Vice President, AgustaWestland Inc., Reston, Virginia. Mr. Duthie is responsible for technical support to the AWI sales and marketing team
  • Frances S. Ligler, D.Phil., D.Sc., Navy’s Senior Scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials in the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Dr. Ligler was the recipient of the 2003 Homeland Security Award in the Biological, Radiological, Nuclear field.
  • Daniel V. Lim, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, Advanced Biosensors Laboratory, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida. Dr. Lim was the recipient of the 2004 Homeland Security Award in the Biological, Radiological, Nuclear field.
  • Alfonso Martinez-Fonts, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Private Sector Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. He is charged with providing America’s private sector with a direct line of communication to the Department.


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